Veins Away Salve

Varicose veins are caused by the dilation and enlargement of veins (known as haemorrhoids when present in the anus). They are often hereditary (thanks, mum) and can also be caused by stagnation of the blood in the veins, aggravated by too much standing, pressure points during pregnancy (thanks, Roxie), not enough exercise, constipation, obesity, shallow breathing and stress.

Varicose veins can be very painful and are often treated with surgery. Dietary changes, exercise and some herbal remedies would be a great first step.

Something that I wanted to create for a few of my clients is a salve that helps with varicose veins and spider veins. A tonifying salve that would lessen the appearance of veins, tonify tissues and relieve pain was the goal. This was the first salve that I created.

It went through a couple of iterations as my processing method improved and as I understood the ratios a bit better.

Varicose veins are a result of a lax tissue state and require astringents to tone up tissues thus tightening and shoring up the tissues (in this case, valves) enabling them to function normally.

According to Kiva Rose:

“Here we are looking for herbs that give tone and help the tissues to hold their form and function efficiently. To tone is to tighten and pull together, thus lessening the permeability of the tissues. Astringents fit the bill perfectly here as they cause the contraction of tissue they come in contact with, and as such help prevent loss of fluids while assisting the organism in proper function wherever there is excessive relaxation/laxity.”

An herbal protocol may consist of applying fresh comfrey poultices, soaking legs or affected areas in a comfrey/calendula tea bath and adding Vitamins E, C and honey to the diet.

Applying this salve daily directly to the varicose or spider veins may help to tone the tissues thus decreasing the varicose veins, it may also help to relieve some of the accompanying pain or discomfort.

Veins Away Salve

  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) Yarrow-infused olive oil
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) Comfrey-infused olive oil
  • 1/4 cup (60 g) beeswax
  • 15 drops each: clary sage, frankincense and cedar essential oils

In a double boiler (or a pot nestled in a larger pot filled with a bit of water) over medium heat, add the oils and beeswax. 

Stir until the beeswax melts and is fully incorporated.

Remove from the heat and allow to cool for a moment.

Add the essential oils. Stir.

Pour into clean and sterilised jars.

Medicinal Actions:

Yarrow: astringent, diuretic, vulnerary, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, alterative

Comfrey: analgesic, anti-inflammatory, vulnerary, demulcent, astringent, alterative

Clary Sage: anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, astringent

Frankincense: anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antispasmodic

Cedar: astringent, sedative, diuretic

Want to buy it directly from me? Shop here.

Tea To The Rescue: Update

Roxie’s migraine really started about two weeks ago and varies in intensity during the day. The last three days she has been on Roxie’s Migraine Tea and it seems to be helping. She drinks about 4-5 cups a day of the blend and a straight Self-heal tea during acute migraines.

We will keep working with this blend. It seems to be doing the trick for now.

Tea To The Rescue

Today’s weather caused my daughter to have a migraine. Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium), our go-to herb for migraines and headaches, doesn’t work for my youngest. Matching herbs to people is an art as well as a science. After today’s research for a post about Self-heal (Prunella vulgaris), it seems uniquely indicated for her particular type of migraine. I picked her a special migraine tea from our garden.

Roxie’s Migraine Tea

– 1 part Self-heal
– 1 part Lemon balm
– 1/2 part Mint
– 1/2 part Calendula

Medicinal Actions:

Self-heal: Tonic, relaxant, restorative, diuretic, digestive, antioxidant, astringent, hemostatic, hypotensive, anti-inflammatory and vulnerary

Lemon balm: Diaphoretic, nervine, antispasmodic, sedative, decongestant, antihistamine

Mint: Nervine, antispasmodic, antiemetic, analgesic

Calendula: Vulnerary, anti-inflammatory,  immune stimulant, , antiviral,  diaphoretic, lymphatic, antispasmodic

 

Happy Summer Days!

My husband has mowed a smiley face into our grass for a decade now. At first, the neighbours thought we were nuts. I’m pretty sure they chalked it up to us being the crazy foreigners. Now, I think the smiley brings everyone a bit of summer joy!
This year’s smiley has started growing Self-heal (Prunella vulgaris).

Breathe Easy Tea

Summer’s here and with it comes sunshine, holidays as well as a few unexpected issues.

You’d think that allergy season would have subsided. Not here though, I still see so many people walking around sniffling with red, watery eyes.

Then there is the issue of the change in weather bringing about systemic weakness to our organisms allowing for spring and summer colds and viruses.

To top it off, holiday travel brings certain stressors: jet lag, new microbes and viruses, unusual foods, lack of routine, sudden increase in physical exertion; all of these can lead to a weakened system.

It seems unusual to point out the benefits of this tea outside of cold and flu season or the height of allergy season, yet I have reached for this formula twice in the last week.

My Breathe Easy Tea benefits the upper respiratory system and is a valuable tool when an expectorant or a decongestant is needed. The tannins in these herbs help to extract excess moisture from the tissues.

Breathe Easy Tea

  • 1 part Yarrow Achillea millefolium
  • 1 part Angelica root Angelica archangelica
  • 1 part Eyebright Euphrasia
  • 2 parts Mint Mentha (add more to taste, if desired)

Grind the herbs in a mortar and pestle or with a juicer or herb grinder.

Store in a cool, dry, dark place.

1 tablespoon of tea per cup of boiling water, let steep for 5-10 minutes covered.

Dose:  1 cup of tea as needed

Medicinal Actions:

Mint: Decongestant, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, diaphoretic

Yarrow: diaphoretic, diuretic, astringent, decongestant, expectorant, alterative, analgesic

Angelica Root:  diaphoretic, anti-inflammatory, expectorant, alterative

Eyebright: expectorant, astringent, antiviral, decongestant

 

For other medicinal herbal tea blends see my Loose Leaf Tea Menu.

Self-heal

Prunella vulgaris

Common Name: All-Heal, Blue Curls, Brownwort, Brunelle, Brunelle Commune, Brunelle Vulgaire, Brunette, Carpenter’s Herb, Carpenter’s Weed, Charbonnière, Heal-All, Heart of the Earth, Herbe au Charpentier, Hercules Woundwort, Hock-Heal, Petite Consoude, Prunela, Prunella, Prunelle, Prunelle Vulgaire, Self Heal, Sicklewort, Siclewort, Slough-Heal, Woundwort
 
Family: Lamiaciae
TCM Name: Xia Ku Cao
Ayurvedic Name: N/A
Parts Used: leaves, flowering tops
Native To: Northern Hemisphere
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Medicinal Notes

The plant has a long history of medicinal use, and traditionally the leaves are applied to wounds to promote healing. According to the 16th-century herbalist John Gerard, ‘there is not a better wounde herbe in the world’. The 17th-century botanist Nicholas Culpeper wrote that the plant is called self-heal because ‘when you are hurt, you may heal yourself’.

According to KewScience:

“Prior to World War II, it was used to staunch bleeding and for treating heart disease. A decoction of the leaves was used to treat sore throats and internal bleeding. It is used as an anti-inflammatory and has anti-allergic activity. In western medicine it is used externally for treating minor injuries, sores, burns, bruises and can also be used as a mouthwash to treat mouth ulcers.

Whereas in European countries herbalists have mainly used selfheal for treating wounds, in Chinese medicine it is mainly used for treating liver complaints, acting as a stimulant in the liver and gall bladder. Self-heal shows antiviral properties, and in China it is used as an anti-cancer drug.:

Harvesting

Identifying Self-heal

Self-heal is a member of the family Lamiaciae. Prunella vulgaris is a perennial herb, with stems often square, crimson tinged, and erect to decumbent, up to 30 cm tall

According to Show Me OZ:

“To use Heal-All, simply cut the desired amount of stems desired to ground level and avoid pulling up the plant as this effectively kills it.  Always avoid harvesting Heal-All from roadsides, pastures, agricultural fields and other sites that may be contaminated with herbicides, pesticides, lead or any number of industrial chemicals because Heal-All is known to readily these chemicals from the soil.”

Constituents

Self-heal contains a wide array of acid compounds including lauric –, oleanolic –, rosmarinic –(antioxidant), linoleic – and ursolic acid. Contains volatile oils (camphor, fenchone), bitters, saponins, tannins, glycoside (aucubin), flavinoids

Uses

 

 Self-heal is used as an astringent for remedying diarrhea and inflammatory bowel issues such as colitis and Crohn’s disease. The bitter constituents stimulate the liver and gall bladder.
 It is helpful to the urinary system as it clears toxins and excess uric acid via the kidneys. It has been widely recommended for gout. As it contains urosolic acid, it has diuretic properties and claims to anticancer properties as a result of research on this particular acid.
 I was excited to read about its benefit to the reproductive system. Its astringency in known to curb heavy menstrual bleeding, menorraghia.
 Self-heal is known to work well with specific types of headaches caused by tension, vertigo, light-sensitivity and high blood pressure.
 It is a wonder for the immune system. While enhancing immunity and reducing fevers, research shows a potent antiviral action, alongside antioxidant effects thanks to the rosmarinic acid compounds. It is recommended for lowered immunity, HIV, chronic fatigue syndrome and allergies.
 It is an effective antibiotic and is useful against swollen glands, mumps, glandular fever and mastitis.
 Self-heal has detoxifying capabilities, clearing up inflammation, with an affinity for skin issues.
 TCM has long used it to calm hyperactivity in children.
 Externally, Self-heal has been used as a traditional wound remedy; a tea/compress/poultice on a burn, bite, cut, sprain, sting, varicose vein or ulcer. Drops have been used to help inflammatory eye issues such as conjunctivitis.
                                                       Thanks to Anne McIntyre, The Complete Herbal Tutor
Protocol
Ways to Use: Tincture, infusion, infused oil, powder, salve, compress
Actions: emollient, styptic, tonic, relaxant, antibiotic, liver tonic, antiallergenic, restorative, diuretic, digestive, antioxidant, astringent, hemostatic, hypotensive, anti-inflammatory and vulnerary
Taste:  bitter, pungent, acrid 
Energy: cooling, dispersing, slightly moistening
Dosing
Adult Dose

 Tincture: 1:5; 40% ethanol: 2-4 ml three times a day

Tea: 3g in one day as tea or infusion .

External applications: salve, compress, powder or wash as needed.

 

Safety

 

It should not be taken in large doses during pregnancy, but it is sometimes appropriate in small doses at that time.

Herbal How To: Lip Balm

Today we’re making Lavender Lip Balm. The recipe stays consistent for all of the variations. Check out my Soothing Lip Balm post for all of the recipes.
36475466_227427728076719_1617258347487035392_n1. Gather supplies (sauce pan, wooden spoon, measuring cup, infused oils, shea butter, beeswax, essential oils, lip balm tubes)


2. Heat 1/4 cup infused oil in a double boiler on low heat (I used lavender-infused almond oil)


3. Add 1/4 cup shea butter
4. Add 1/8 cup beeswax
5. Stir until fully incorporated

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6. Add 25-30 drops essential oil (I used lavender)


7. Prepare the lip balm tubes
8. Pour (carefully) into lip balm containers


9. Allow to cool and then apply labels
10. Enjoy!

IMG_7428All of these lip balms are available to purchase here.

(Photo credit for the really nice photos: Zeinep Yessenbekova)

Calling All Arborists

While out harvesting, I came upon this unusual Tamarack (?) Larch (thanks, Tony!). I saw several people gathering the succulent baby cones. I wondered for what purpose they could be used.

I am no expert on trees, apart from the few that I use regularly in my herbal remedies. For this, I must rely upon Tony Tomeo. Tony, Can you help me identify this unusual yet ubiquitous (in one part of our forest) conifer? And perhaps shed some light on the uses of their cones?

 

Soothing Lip Balms

A friend and client of mine was in attendance at one of my Herbal Workshops. As the workshop was wrapping up, we were discussing what we should do for the next few workshops. One idea that my friend came up with was a beauty workshop featuring Basic Face Wash and lip balms.

I thought this was a fantastic idea, except for the fact that I had never made lip balms before. Not to mention the fact that I didn’t have any idea about flavours, and I had no containers nor labels.

Step 1: I had to actually find out how to make lip balms.

Step 2: I had to decide what flavours to make, and how to do that as well.

Step 3: I had to test all the lip balms on my friends and family and perfect the recipe.

Step 4: I had forgotten to order the containers beforehand, so an extra step had to be added to make up for this.

Step 5: Bekah had to design the labels, draw them, format them, take them to the printers, etcetera

So I got to work, and after a couple of weeks I had completed all of these steps and the recipe had now been through three iterations. Despite having to hand out so many samples and collect so much feedback, it paid off; I’m really happy with the final product, especially the packaging.

What I was so surprised about was just how easy the lip balms were to make. Anyone can make them at home with the right ingredients, and you don’t even need the tubes as small tins or empty lip balm containers work just fine.

Soothing Lip Balm

  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) herb-infused oil
  • 1/8 cup (30 g) beeswax
  • 1/4 cup (60 g) shea butter
  • 25 drops essential oil

In a double boiler (or a pot nestled in a larger pot filled with a bit of water) over medium heat, add the oils, butter, and beeswax. 

Stir until the butter and beeswax melts and is fully incorporated.

Remove from the heat and allow to cool for a moment.

Add the essential oils. Stir.

Pour into clean and sterilised jars, tins, or tubes.

IMG_7426

Flavour Recipes

Chamomile
Chamomile-infused almond oil
Shea butter
Beeswax
Chamomile essential oil

Mint
Almond oil
Shea butter
Beeswax
Mint essential oil

Rose
Rose and alkanet-infused almond oil (alkanet root lends a gorgeous pink colour)
Shea butter
Beeswax
Rose and geranium essential oils

Lavender
Lavender-infused almond oil
Shea butter
Beeswax
Lavender essential oil

Hemp
Hemp seed oil
Shea butter
Beeswax

Citrus
Calendula-infused almond oil
Shea butter
Beeswax
Red grapefruit and mandarin essential oils

Note: Due to Shea butter’s natural graininess, some of this texture may be found in the lip balm. This is completely normal and- with the heat of your skin- will melt, leaving your lips silky smooth.

You can purchase these lip balms here.

 

(photo credit: Zeinep Yessenbekova)

 

Bee Hotel

My husband and I were in a meadow harvesting St John’s Wort when we happened upon this bee hotel. Foxglove, you make an awesome restaurant/accomodation for my fuzzy friends!